Structural Failure Caused SARGE Crash

A cloud of dirt rises after the impact of the SARGE booster. (Credit Exos Aerospace webcast)

CADDO MILLS, Texas (Exos Aerospace PR) — On Saturday, October 26th, Exos Aerospace launched its SARGE-SRLV at Spaceport America. Launch initiation was at 11:39 MST. While we beat SpaceX to a fourth flight, we will likely not beat them to a fourth recovery, given the loss of the vehicle at T+48 seconds.

We are still in the process of evaluating video and telemetry data; however, it appears a structural failure resulted in an abort and deployment of the recovery system at speeds far beyond its design capability. Exos recovered the vehicle within the flight hazard area, and the retrieved hardware confirms that the safety systems performed flawlessly.

This event presents an opportunity to implement the lessons learned from the first three launches of SARGE – S1. Much has changed in the Industry and supplier base since we completed the design of this vehicle. While it may take a little longer to implement the lessons learned and return to flight, our change management will include numerous upgrades that are low risk – high impact. We will work closely with the FAA and AST on the return to flight plan and relevant submission on the planned vehicle upgrades.

On flights 1-3, we learned a great deal about the dynamics of the control system along with the complex operations required to launch a reusable liquid-fueled sounding rocket successfully. Flight 4 confirmed that we made substantial improvements in the GNC software, and the new IMU performed as designed. From observing the air to ground telemetry, indications are good that the vehicle was going to continue to fly well.

Though we have plans to launch SARGE – S2 in early 2020, we will have to beat the onset of high winds in April/May. This event will not impact our transition to LEO and the development of our JAGUAR small satellite launcher that will also benefit from the latest lessons learned.

I stand proud of our team of twelve who flew the same vehicle four times. In that respect, we stand amongst two giants in the Industry, SpaceX and Blue Origin, as the only others in the world we know of that can make that claim. As we continue to learn from these events, we will exponentially increase our learning and continue to mitigate risk in our Orbital program. Suborbital is not about being a “suborbital business”; it’s about building operational excellence and mitigating risk in our quest to reusable LEO operations.

Few companies have embraced a Design-Build Test Iterate philosophy in their pursuit of LEO operations. That is part of what makes us different than the hundreds of others on the same journey, Exos Aerospace Systems & Technologies is working hard to make SPACEavailable…